A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Shows the danger of mass hysteria.
Violence & Scariness
Explicit references to hangings. The lead character threatens her mother's persecutors with a knife and expresses her desire to stab them. Explicit references to witchcraft and a bloodthirsty mob. Mary Chase and Sarah Procter envision killing their mothers' persecutors. Children face the imminent hanging of their mother.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A farmhand watches Virginia Chase undress. Brief references to a widower engaging in extramarital sex. Virginia is stripped during an examination by leering magistrates.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that complex characters and a spine-tingling plot will have many readers racing through the novel to find out what happens next. Still, some parents won't feel comfortable when Mary tells her brother, "I will scratch. I will cut. I will stab. I will kill to find out where Mother is and save her."
Is It Any Good?
BEYOND THE BURNING TIME is a fascinating look at the Salem witch trials. Lasky excerpts much of her material from sermons, trial testimonies, and contemporary histories, cleverly blending fact and fiction. Her fictional characters are skillfully conceived and believable. Many readers will identify with Mary Chase, someone apart from the hysteria who struggles to understand the motivations of the young women and the townspeople supporting them.
The novel is packed with scenes of searing emotional intensity. When Mary views a hanging for the first time or when Virginia Chase tells her children to abandon her and save themselves, the scenes draw the reader in as a witness to these painful events. Ultimately, Mary becomes immersed in this culture of violence and tells her brother, "I will scratch. I will cut. I will stab. I will kill to find out where Mother is and save her." Though her response is certainly believable, it may disturb younger readers. This point aside, Lasky's novel is a riveting read that even many reluctant readers will find hard to put down.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.